Smith STEM Bill Passes House of Representatives but is Blocked in Senate
Senate Democrats have blocked the STEM Jobs Act, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) bill to make 50,000 immigrant visas available to foreign nationals with U.S. advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who have received a job offer from a U.S. employer. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week, but was not expected to overcome Democratic opposition to a provision in the bill that would eliminate the Diversity Visa green card lottery and reallocate its 50,000 immigrant visa numbers to the proposed STEM program. The White House also voiced its opposition to the bill, issuing a statement of administration policy favoring comprehensive immigration reform over the more narrowly-tailored STEM proposal.
An earlier version of the STEM Jobs Act was taken up by the House in September and received majority bipartisan support, but was defeated because it was considered under a procedure that required a two-thirds vote. The latest bill differed in two key respects from the earlier version. It contained a provision to allow unused STEM immigrant visa numbers to be carried forward between Fiscal Years 2013 and 2017. It would also have expanded the V visa program, which allows the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to enter and remain in the United States while awaiting availability of an immigrant visa number after their permanent residence case has been pending for one year.